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RSVP: FOI Day March 13, 2015

The 16th annual FOI Day program will feature a discussion of “Open Government: Successes, Challenges, Prospects,” presented by OpenTheGovernment.org, a discussion of the first ten years of the “Sunshine Week” national open records initiative, presented by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the American Society of News Editors, and much more. Learn about the complete program here.

Senators Launch Whistleblower Caucus - March 3, 2015 Newsletter

– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– Senators Launch Whistleblower Caucus (more)

– Presidential Libraries Donation Reform Act Reintroduced (more)

CISA is Back, and It’s Still Terrible on Transparency

Cybersecurity legislation is much needed, but previous versions of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) all had one thing in common: harsh blows to government transparency. In July, OTG took issue with the Washington Post’s support of the legislation, noting that CISA fails to protect privacy, would block crucial information from the public, and threatens journalists and whistleblowers. The recently- released 114th Congress’ Intelligence Committee version of the bill contains the same worrisome provisions.

47 Groups Support 114th Congress' Steps to Reform FOIA

Forty-seven groups thanked Senators Cornyn and Leahy and Representatives Issa and Cummings for their newly-introduced legislation to reform the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA Overisght and Implementation Act (H.R. 653) and the FOIA Improvement Act (S. 337) include critical reforms that will help strengthen the public's ability to hold its government accountable. Read the letter here. For more analysis, visit the Sunlight Foundation and the National Security Archive.

Supreme Court Has a Responsibility to Open Up

Describing the US Federal Courts’ approach to technology, Chief Justice John G. Roberts invoked the Supreme Court building’s engraving that illustrates the fable of the tortoise and the hare. In the 2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, Roberts defended the judiciary’s slow adoption of modern technology, citing funding, cybersecurity concerns, and equality of access. “Unlike commercial enterprises,” Roberts notes, “the courts cannot decide to serve only the most technically-capable or well-equipped segments of the public.” It’s a worthy but bewildering concern from a court that restricts access to its history-making arguments to approximately 50 members of public.

FOIA Advisory Committee Meeting: January 27, 2015

In December 2013, the White House committed to establish a FOIA Modernization Advisory committee in its second open government National Action Plan. The committee includes FOIA experts from inside and outside government and includes subcommittees examining proactive disclosure, FOIA fees and fee categories, and oversight. The committee holds regular public meetings. On January 27th, each subcommittee reported on its activities and future plans.

Groups to President Obama: Stop Ignoring the Torture Report

On January 28, OpenTheGovernment.org and 8 other groups wrote to President Obama, asking his administration to stop ignoring the nearly 7000-page torture report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and reject Senator Richard Burr’s unprecedented request for the report’s return. The letter states in part:

SSCI Chairman to CIA: We'll Hide Your Documents if You Hide Ours

Shortly after he became chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January, Senator Richard Burr told reporters in his home state that he had no intention of trying to rewrite the committee’s 6700-page, $40 million torture report. Burr said that despite his disagreements with the report, he wanted to “look forward and do oversight in real time.”

Overclassification: The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

The Inspector General for the Office of the Direct of National Intelligence (DNI) has released its annual report on over-classification.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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